Moving at a Snail's Pace: the effect of temperature and humidity cues on the behaviour of Littorina subrotundata

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Rickards, Karen J.C.
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University of Guelph

Animals living in intertidal habitats are subjected to extreme variation in abiotic stressors such as high temperatures and low humidity during emersion at low tide. Rather than rely solely on physiological responses to these stressors, many intertidal animals use behaviour to respond to these environmental variables. I investigated three behaviours displayed by the northeastern Pacific intertidal snail Littorina subrotundata that are altered in response to temperature and/or humidity in other intertidal snail species. I found that under summer conditions, temperature and humidity did not appear to be primary environmental cues motivating altered microhabitat selection or aggregation propensity in L. subrotundata. Despite this, these stressors did appear to be important cues for altered activity level. This study demonstrates that behaviour typically assumed to be a response to temperature and humidity may be driven by alternate cues across different species and/or study systems.

rocky intertidal, temperature, thermal cues, humidity, desiccation cues, behaviour, behavioural cues, marine biology, Littorina subrotundata